Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lily of the Valley on the Shellpot Creek

We are completing our third year at this house and yet I am still finding interesting things and discovering plants that I didn't know were here.

These lily of the valley are right on the edge of the yard next to the creek almost growing from under some rocks there. I do not recall seeing them before, so I got in close to record them.

They are supposed to have a wonderful smell, but I couldn't really get in close enough to smell them. These are native to the Eastern US, but there is some debate about this. Examination of the details shows that they are not necessarily native to Delaware. I guess we can assume they were planted there by someone.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Irises finally!

I try to have irises at each of the places I have lived. I had a great set at my house in Wilmington, and we have tried repeatedly to grow some at this house, with a startling lack of success until this year.

One set that is finally blooming at the end of the driveway was to replace two other attempts that yielded leaves and then nothing the next year. Then we waited one leaf-only year for this one to produce a ton of iris flowers, some of which are on stalks almost four feet tall. I wish I knew what caused the success, perhaps it is just patience.

We planted another set closer to the house. These irises are not as tall, but are as bountiful with blooms.

I never realized until taking these closeup pictures that an iris "flower" appears to made of three flowers in a triangle, and that the center of the triangle is not the flower part, it is the fuzzy triangle corners that have the important flower "parts" so to speak. My amateur naturalism and horticulture are starting to pay dividends with new knowledge for me.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More Northern Water Snakes on Shellpot Creek

This has been a banner year (five at once, in the mulch) for Northern Water Snakes in my yard on the edge of Shellpot Creek north of Wilmington. I took a picture of this one basking in the grass next to the driveway yesterday.

I took a video of it as it slithered away to hide under the hostas. Perhaps it doesn't like the attention.

The snakes seem to come out on cool but sunny days and particularly enjoy a rock with many nooks and crannies which is next to the creek but in the sun. I have officially names the rock, Snake Rock, because there has rarely been a time during a sunny day when I have gone over there and not spotted a snake sunning itself on the rock or visible in a cranny in the rock. yesterday I had to stop two neighborhood girls from stepping on one. The kids use the rocks along the creek as a path but these two were completely unaware that there were snakes a few feet from them. I asked them to stop and then warned them. They were calm and then they decided to walk in the yard to get around the snakes.

I don't mind the snakes as I assume they eat mice and moles, which do need to be controlled in my yard, I just don't want to surprise one and get bitten, or worse, have Linus get bitten.

Gladiator Alliums

Each house I live in I try to grow Gladiator Alliums because they are so tall and spherical and because I can shout "Maximus" at them just like in the film.

Even since these pictures were taken last week, these alliums have gotten taller and the flowers large in diameter.

The bulbs for these plants missed last November's planting date, so we put them in as soon as we could in February of this year. It seems to have done them no harm. Let's see what happens next year.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spring Beauty

In the spring, we often get many clumps of delicate white flowers with pink lines on them. They are very tiny, and pretty enough that I tend to mow around them on the first fews mows of the spring.

After much research, I have finally found out that these flowers are called Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica, and are native to the area. Thus they are not weeds and will get accorded great respect each year when they arrive.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What the hell crapped in my yard?

What animal is using my yard for a toilet? I do not have a dog or a cat for many reasons, but one good one is so that I do not have to clean up after them. I have already been fighting a battle of over the years, having to clean up raccoon poop, just like they were my pets instead of the nuisances they are. Yet this new situation is striking in that the pile is in the front of the house, in a newly cleared area. Cleared because we had to get rid of a snow broken holly bush.

This view is from the front porch just outside the front door. No privacy for an animal, that I might imagine would be afraid of people.

We cleaned it up, and then put down a product intended to discourage foraging that I think is just red pepper flakes or an equivalent. The scat reappeared, and the animal continued to pile it on. My wife says fox, and I say raccoon. I hope it is not a dog or a human. Any coprologists out there want to speculate? And also offer advice to stop it.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Pictures from Point to Point at Wintherthur

Point to Point, was run at Winterthur yesterday. I got this action shot of the race horse jumping over the jumps. At our jump we saw one rider fly off of his horse when it avoided the jump, while the rider didn't. He appeared to be OK. There was also one hose that completely stopped and refused to jump during one of the races. It was very hot, especially for the horses.

Before the races, I also tried to get some actions shots of the fancy carriages.

Tiny ponies pull a carriage.
More tiny ponies.

There were some larger horses. The outfits that the carriage riders had on appeared historically accurate and ridiculously hot. I doubt folks had blankest on there legs in 90 degree hit at the turn of the century. Or are they there to keep the dirt from the hoofs from flying up onto their clothes?

Large horse pull a carriage.

Tiny cute ponies pull a carriage.